Sunday, 24 June 2012

Lessons from a new library building

Robots, resources & people ftw!
Robots, resources & people ftw!
It’s almost a year since the new library at Macquarie University opened – here’s an overview if you want some more detail. The new library created a lot more space for library users by housing much of the collection in an automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS). The experience is very different to the previous library.

Here are a few things we’ve learnt along the way:

  • Having resources in an ASRS hasn’t been a big deal for library users. Carefully planned collection storage principles including consultation with academics have ensured most students get all the resources they require from traditional shelving and rarely need to request anything from the ASRS. It makes sense - a large recent study by OCLC indicates that 80% of circulation in an academic library is driven by just 6% of the collection.
  • Fears about the loss of serendipitous discovery have hardly registered in client feedback, as tools such as a virtual bookshelf within the catalogue provide this type of discovery AND include electronic resources.
  • The library was designed so that the furniture would suggest behavior with configurations indicating collaborative spaces or individual study spaces. While this has been largely successful, reminders about noise in some of the quieter individual spaces have been required. (But aren’t they always?) 
  • Quiet, individual study spaces are just as popular as ever. Much has been written about libraries as collaborative spaces, and these spaces are extremely popular, but the demand for more quiet, individual spaces has been even stronger. We have reconfigured furniture to create an extra 200 individual study spaces in response to this demand. 
  • More space means more people. Lots more people. We knew the new building would be popular, but daily library visits have almost doubled compared to the previous building. Yep, the new library has certainly taken its place at the centre of the University.

People + space = more people 

Brendan Krige is Communications Coordinator at Macquarie University Library

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